Author Topic: Bad Design Choices in Otherise Excellent Games  (Read 3095 times)

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Offline MP-Ryan

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Bad Design Choices in Otherise Excellent Games
A worthy topic of discussion, considering the number of modders on HLP with design aspirations.  I thought it might be fun for us to dig up various examples, particularly because I found an obnoxiously glaring one last night.

My example?  Dishonored: Knife of Dunwall DLC Mission 1

For those unfamiliar, Dishonored is predominantly a stealth game with combat elements and a wide latitude in playstyle - it allows you to proceed by killing everything and everyone in your path, by avoiding everyone and being a complete ghost, by non-lethal neutralization, and various combinations thereof.  The game has design elements that make all of these playstyles equally viable, and an achievement system that reflects that.  It is a very well-crafted game and has clearly been painstakingly balanced... which is perhaps why this example is so baffling and infuriating.

In the first mission of the Knife of Dunwall DLC, you infiltrate a slaughterhouse (of whales) and interrogate its owner, who is really not a nice person.  You can then lethally or non-lethally dispose of him, and finish out the level.

In the course of my game last night, I painstakingly cleared the level by knocking out enemies and stashing their slumbering bodies in secluded areas, being spotted by no one in the process.  I've been doing my utmost to obtain three achievements in the playthrough:  complete non-lethal, complete non-detection, and finish the game with a certain amount of coinage left to me.  This means I am scrounging the whole level for every scrap of loot I can find.

I knocked out my primary objective, and then stashed him in a shipping crate to get rid of him non-lethally.  I then backtracked through the level, knocked out the final remaining enemies, and collected the loot.  Finally, I went to depart a certain area, then heard a sudden commotion.  I turned around, and the game had spawned an enemy corpse in plain sight, with three live enemies around it, who immediately alerted and began searching.  I reloaded, tried exiting a different way.  Same effect.  I tried several times, and determined that every time I knocked out the last enemy in one part of the level, it would spawn the corpse and three live enemies around it.  I eventually bypassed this by leaving one enemy awake in that part of the level, and heading toward the exit... only to find the same thing happened in a different part of the level I had already cleared, with no way to avoid it.

To summarize:  in a stealth game in which one playstyle is rewarded by knocking out all enemies and hiding them to proceed non-lethal with no detection, the game actively spawns enemies if you attempt this into a situation where you cannot prevent detection.  Furthermore, when played through to the end of the level, the game counted the corpse it spawned as a player kill.  Let me repeat that:  in a non-lethal run, the game spawned an already-dead NPC and counted that as a player kill.  There is no warning or explanation whatsoever that this would happen.

The end result is that I am replaying from a much earlier save, and I will refrain from knocking out all enemies in a single area after locking up my target, because that seems to spawn a railroaded game change that ruins player approach with no ability to prevent it.

This is bad design.  Anyone else have some glaring examples they'd like to share?  Keep in mind this is about bad design in otherwise good games, not simply bad games.
"In the beginning, the Universe was created.  This made a lot of people very angry and has widely been regarded as a bad move."  [Douglas Adams]

 

Offline Parias

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Re: Bad Design Choices in Otherise Excellent Games
Any game that has multiplayer, but has an absolute requirements for online matchmaking to play - even if you're on the same local network as the friend you're playing with.

A few good examples would be the DCS sim games, Lost Planet 2, Space Engineers, and Spintires. Every weekend I hook up with my local LAN gaming group; we all bring our computers over, set up a local network, and go crazy with whatever co-op game we want to play.  But with these certain games, if any issues occur with our internet link, our entire game session will go down.

Why?! We're on the same local network. We have no interest in online matchmaking; we just want to play the game co-operatively with each other locally. We have no technical dependencies on internet-facing services to actually connect to one another, and yet if internet connectivity becomes unavailable, we're suddenly drop-kicked out of the game session even though our computers can still connect to each other.

Some games even make their online servers the authoritative point for all network traffic, so even if it's just you and your local friends playing in the same session, all your network traffic HAS to hit the online servers first and then come back down. This can potentially add hundreds of milliseconds of extra ping time to our local game session for no useful reason whatsoever.

The absolute worst is when the online matchmaking services go down (looking at you, Mercenaries 2...) and you're left with no way to play co-op multiplayer for your favorite games whatsoever beyond praying some third party comes out with a server emulator. WTF?

Give us proper LAN play, damnit.

Edit: And while I'm at it, give us proper scaling options for local network play. It's silly that I have to see my friends jumping, jittering, and teleporting all over my screen in some games when I've got a ~10ms ping time to them on a gigabit connection less than ten feet away. Yes, network optimizations are essential for online gameplay experiences, but if I go to the trouble of setting up a high-speed local connection, I should be able to benefit from it.
« Last Edit: September 16, 2014, 02:51:02 pm by Parias »

 
Re: Bad Design Choices in Otherise Excellent Games
Fallout New Vegas

Assassination squads being scripted to confront you in certain areas regardless of the character's skill or concealment

Invisible Walls in the middle of the map around black mountain


Basically any design which breaks immersion and reveals the game to be a game.

 
Re: Bad Design Choices in Otherise Excellent Games
Freespace 2's "Hammerhead" section, where it gives you the Herc II and then pits you into several situations where the Herc II is not very suitable, concluding the act with a bombing run in a bomber which' only redeeming feature is that it carries a massive payload.

Battlefield 4's knifing animations - when a knife battle takes place, other players can not fire upon the "couple" - The animations themselves are just over the toppish brutal to top it of, I much preferred older games basic slash (BF3 had a slash from front thing doing 50 damage which was usefull in panic mode)

Heck
Battlefield 4's tendency to ANIMATE EVERYTHING - which creates rather weird bugs - for example, when you shoot someone in the head, this person automatically ducks, changing the hitbox. This in itself is rather silly IMO (As instead of rewarding consistent aiming - you miss the follow-up!), but this animation is not always properly synched with the hitbox, so...

Saint's Row IVs Metal Gear Solid parody: It's great fun! But it does punish you very, very harshly for (intentionally) ****ing up, whilst similar stealth segments in say... CoD4 let you play around with your consequences.

 

Offline Flipside

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Re: Bad Design Choices in Otherise Excellent Games
Well, I'm not sure I'd class the game as 'Excellent', but the raids in 'Impire' felt like a terrible wasted opportunity. (Posted the game as Dungeons earlier, wrong clone...)

Basically, you could group your creatures up and send them on missions, depriving your Dungeon of some of its defences at the chance of gaining resources. What this involved was a single room like a Barn or something from a fixed perspective, often half-obscured by it's own model into which your creatures would pile in, attack whatever was there and then open the chest for the reward.

This is one of those design decisions that just reeks of having been a production, rather than a design choice, which is a pity, since if these had been large, dungeon-like areas, rather than rooms, I think it would have made an interesting new twist for a Dungeon-Keeper clone, think DK meets Diablo :)
« Last Edit: September 16, 2014, 04:21:35 pm by Flipside »

 

Offline Lorric

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Re: Bad Design Choices in Otherise Excellent Games
While this is not the kind of glaring BAD thing MP-Ryan has in his OP, I've looked over my games and nothing really sticks in my mind for an excellent game with something so bad.

So I'm going to go with like Flipside, and the most annoying missed-opportunity to make an excellent game much better for me is not having Perfect-Dark level customisation options in the Timesplitters games.

At least let me choose the number of kills for a match down to single-digit level!

 
Re: Bad Design Choices in Otherise Excellent Games
Fallout New Vegas

Invisible Walls in the middle of the map around black mountain

Yes! Completely unnecessary, I can see it around the edges of the world, but in the middle... :rolleyes:
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Offline Lorric

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Re: Bad Design Choices in Otherise Excellent Games
Rubber band AI in several racing games.

 

Offline Klaustrophobia

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Re: Bad Design Choices in Otherise Excellent Games
crysis 1/warhead - can't fire or even punch from stealth mode.  also, just generally having WAY too little suit energy.  my super suit with magic armor is less durable than north korea's standard issue flak jacket.  wtf. 

any modern game with a checkpoint-only save system. 

any game that forces online accounts/third party apps into offline, single player games.  if i want to use your "service," i am quite capable of installing it myself.  yall remember when registering your game with the publisher online got you a cheat code or hint instead of a huge piece of the game that was held back from you until you do?
« Last Edit: September 16, 2014, 07:01:23 pm by Klaustrophobia »
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Offline Flipside

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Re: Bad Design Choices in Otherise Excellent Games
Bioshock - The annoying juxtaposition of brilliant plot twist and disappointing plot resolution.

Edit : I suspect there are people who would place Mass Effect 3 in this same category. Having not played it though, I can't speak for myself on it.
« Last Edit: September 16, 2014, 07:33:39 pm by Flipside »

 

Offline karajorma

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Re: Bad Design Choices in Otherise Excellent Games
Prince of Persia : Sands of Time. - Climbing the Tower of Dawn without the Dagger of Time

By this point in the game, it has already established itself as probably the best platforming game of all time. The game has a limited number of savepoints and a mistake frequently ends in insta-death. But it is saved by the Dagger of Time mechanic which allows you a limited number of reattempts from the exact point at which you made the mistake. Once you run out of those, you have to start the whole section again from the savepoint. The result is that for the most part, the running, climbing and jumping works very well and single mistake doesn't result in the need to do it all again. If you do end up having to replay, the player generally ends up feeling it's their own fault because either they've repeatedly ****ed up the same jump, or they ****ed up repeatedly in an earlier section and have run out of retries further along.

Until you get to the Tower of Dawn.

Having lost the Dagger of Time because the plot demands it (i.e you have no choice and lost it in a cutscene), the player is forced to use every single skill he has learned in a section of the game which could take 5-10 minutes to complete. Any mistake results in the player having to replay the entire section again.


This one section is probably the main reason I haven't replayed Prince of Persia since completing it. There is no reason that it couldn't have been done as an achievement ("Who needs a dagger!") instead of forcing the player to repeat the same section over and over again until they finish it.
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Offline MP-Ryan

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Re: Bad Design Choices in Otherise Excellent Games
Prince of Persia : Sands of Time. - Climbing the Tower of Dawn without the Dagger of Time

Having played that game on PC, that is certainly not the only section of that game I'd criticize - the controls for the combat were awful, and the entire combat model was generally awful as a result in a PC environment without a controller (Sand King battle, I am looking right at you!) - but the section you just mentioned does deserve special mention.

any modern game with a checkpoint-only save system. 

Yes.  This times a million.

And along that line, any modern game with a limited number of save slots (on PC).  Seriously, the ONLY thing that should limit your save slots is disk space, not some arbitrary number (Dishonored, I am looking at you again).
"In the beginning, the Universe was created.  This made a lot of people very angry and has widely been regarded as a bad move."  [Douglas Adams]

 
Re: Bad Design Choices in Otherise Excellent Games
Checkpoints are annoying but kind of understandable, they're a lot less complex to program than a full save system.
The good Christian should beware of mathematicians, and all those who make empty prophecies. The danger already exists that the mathematicians have made a covenant with the devil to darken the spirit and to confine man in the bonds of Hell.

 

Offline MP-Ryan

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Re: Bad Design Choices in Otherise Excellent Games
Checkpoints are annoying but kind of understandable, they're a lot less complex to program than a full save system.

Checkpoints would be far less obnoxious if they auto-saved when you want to exit the game.  There is nothing more infuriating than replying the same 10 minutes of game over and over because you get interrupted in the middle of it and have to quit out between checkpoints.
"In the beginning, the Universe was created.  This made a lot of people very angry and has widely been regarded as a bad move."  [Douglas Adams]

 
Re: Bad Design Choices in Otherise Excellent Games
But that's exactly why checkpoints are easier, you don't have to deal with saving at arbitrary points in the game.
The good Christian should beware of mathematicians, and all those who make empty prophecies. The danger already exists that the mathematicians have made a covenant with the devil to darken the spirit and to confine man in the bonds of Hell.

 

Offline Lorric

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Re: Bad Design Choices in Otherise Excellent Games
And along that line, any modern game with a limited number of save slots (on PC).  Seriously, the ONLY thing that should limit your save slots is disk space, not some arbitrary number (Dishonored, I am looking at you again).
Oh yes this. Absolutely this. But I'd like to extend it to console as well. At least on PS1 and PS2 I could get around this through the use of multiple memory cards. I have some games where I'll have saves on like 8 memory cards. But on PS3, I'm stuck with just whatever number the game designers have chosen to limit me to. And it is infuriating.

 

Offline Klaustrophobia

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Re: Bad Design Choices in Otherise Excellent Games
Checkpoints are annoying but kind of understandable, they're a lot less complex to program than a full save system.

sure it's harder, but it's been proven not prohibitively so.  if a completely open world game like skyrim can do quick saves, how does a linear shooter claim it's too difficult? 

at the very least, don't have multiple difficulty spike or generally tedious sequences between saves.
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Re: Bad Design Choices in Otherise Excellent Games
Skyrim, ironically, was extremely unstable on the PS3 because of bugs in its save system. It's not at all easy, especially when you factor in the design constraints of keeping the player from saving themselves into a corner.
The good Christian should beware of mathematicians, and all those who make empty prophecies. The danger already exists that the mathematicians have made a covenant with the devil to darken the spirit and to confine man in the bonds of Hell.

 

Online Ghostavo

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Re: Bad Design Choices in Otherise Excellent Games
Oblivion had a bug (that was later corrected) where the object's id would overflow eventually and start deleting objects from the world in order to be able instantiate new objects, which was somehow related to the save game file.
« Last Edit: September 17, 2014, 05:00:58 pm by Ghostavo »
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Offline karajorma

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Re: Bad Design Choices in Otherise Excellent Games
Having played that game on PC, that is certainly not the only section of that game I'd criticize - the controls for the combat were awful, and the entire combat model was generally awful as a result in a PC environment without a controller (Sand King battle, I am looking right at you!) - but the section you just mentioned does deserve special mention.

I hated the combat system when I first played the game (The Sand King was something I especially hated!). But after a while I started to like it and to be honest, I don't mind the combat in PoP much now. In fact, before I had to reinstall, I would occasionally play PoP and only play the Tower of Dawn lift section (Which apparently most people hate).

I never liked combat in either of the sequels anywhere near as much. Too much reliance on button mashing special moves. If I want to play Mortal Kombat, I'll play Mortal Kombat sothankyouverymuch.
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